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Special section Save on back-to-school shopping

Get kids involved with back-to-school shopping by giving them a budget.

5 tips for saving on back-to-school gear

Sales tax holidays offer shopping bargains
 

5. Look for places to spend less
Sander recommends looking for the best sales in the paper and then heading out.

"It's not worth it to drive all over town to save a few dollars on different items. Once you get to the office supply store, get all the office supplies. Don't just buy your paper there and then drive across town to get a protractor for $2 less."

Besides the office supply store with the best sale, Sander recommends hitting consignment shops.

"Consignment shops used to just be for the very rich or the very poor, but it's not that way anymore," he says. "Especially for young children, you can really save money on clothes shopping. We just bought some shorts for our son for $4. They are shorts you couldn't even touch in a department store for $15."

What about clothing outlet stores?

"You have to be careful at clothing outlets," says Sander. "There might not really be a price break there. There are opportunities for good prices, but you have to be careful that it's not just a regular store with regular-store prices put outside of town in an outlet area."

But Sander says outlets are definitely the place to be if you are looking for a computer.

"At computer outlets you can get refurbished computers -- computers that people have returned. You can get a price break of 50 to 60 percent. It's a great deal," says Sander. He should know -- he used to work for Hewlett Packard. "You can also go to CompUSA or Best Buy and ask them for their refurbished computers or look on Dell.com or HP.com."

Sander says that by checking the paper for sales and looking for consignment stores and outlets, you will certainly save money. But the one place you should avoid is the mall.

"You will definitely spend too much if you go to the mall," he says.

Above all, stay within your budget.

"Using credit cards is OK, but only if you know when and how you will pay them off. Otherwise," he says, "you will end up spending way too much on fees and cancel out any savings you got from finding sales and bargains."

Where the money goes*
*Based on a study of 8,361 respondents for the National Retail Federation by BIGresearch July 1-8, 2008.

-- Updated: July 28, 2008
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